The Black Hills of South Dakota
Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse are both among the greatest monuments ever carved into granite rock. Both are in the mountains of the Black Hills, South Dakota, and both locations have millions of visitors each and every year.
I've been fortunate enough to have visited both of these historic places, and all of the photographs in this article I personally took myself. I would like to share 10 of the interesting facts I learned while visiting both these two historic monuments.
Mount Rushmore vs. Crazy Horse
Here are 10 interesting facts I learned when visiting the sites.
1. Construction Starting Date
Mount Rushmore National Memorial was first established in 1925, and the work on Mount Rushmore began in 1927. The first dedication blast at Crazy Horse didn't take place for nearly another 20 years. It finally began on June 3rd, 1948. That very first blast removed 10 tons of solid rock and stone. There were five survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn who attended this ground breaking blast.
2. Date of Completion
The sculptured heads of four U.S.—presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln—were completed in the year 1941. The memorial of Chief Crazy Horse won't be completed in even our children's children's lifetime. There are historians that say that Egypt's Great Pyramid only took about 20 years to finish. Go figure.
Mount Rushmore is a National Park, and is funded by the United States government. Crazy Horse is a nonprofit memorial foundation, and never has and never will ever except one single solitary penny from the state of South Dakota or the United States federal government! In order to keep up construction on the monument, the organization has attempted to raise funds from the public. Perhaps this is why construction is expected to take several more decades.
The four sculptures of the president's heads on Mount Rushmore's tower 60 feet into the South Dakota sky. Crazy Horse's colossal monument is much, much bigger. The Crazy Horse Memorial is 641 feet across and reached 563 feet at the top of the feathers on his headdress. Crazy Horse's arm extends 263 feet, pointing out towards the lands where his dead lie buried. The horse's head is 219 feet high, and Crazy Horse's head is 87.5 feet high.
We were told on our tour you can fit all four of the U.S. president's heads into just one of Crazy Horse's eyeballs. The hole you see in these photographs, under Crazy Horse's arm, can fit a 10 story building. Now that's big!
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5. The Sculptors
Sculptor Gutzon Borglum, with over 400 workers, carved the four heads of the U.S. presidents into the rock. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began the work on Crazy Horse all by himself. Since his death in 1982, his wife Ruth, seven of their children, and many of the 23 grandchildren have continued directing the work each and every passing year—still dreaming in stone. At this point, there's no way of knowing just how many different workers it will take to complete the Crazy Horse Memorial.
Mount Rushmore's entire memorial covers a whopping 1,278.45 acres in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
If and when the Crazy Horse memorial is completed, it will become the world's largest sculpture, as well as the first non-religious statue to hold this record since 1967. It is set to surpass the Statue of Unity in India which stands 597 feet tall.
7. Distance Between
Just 17 miles separate Mount Rushmore from Crazy Horse. So there's really no excuse for visiting one of these historic sites and not the other one!
8. Entrance Fees
There are no entrance fees for Mount Rushmore itself. However, the gimmick is there's absolutely no where close by to park your vehicle, so fees are required to park at the memorial. These fees range from $11 per vehicle up to $50 for a bus.
For the Crazy Horse Memorial, the fees are $11 for adults, and children under the age of 6 are free. There's also the option of a $28 admission fee for an entire carload of visitors. Do whatever is better for you at the time! The important thing to remember at Crazy Horse is that visitor's admission fees help them become a part of the history of the statue. It's considered a donation to keep the project alive.
9. A Closer Look at the Monuments
There are no tours to the summit of Mount Rushmore, but the physically well fit can trek the well-traveled trail right to the base of the presidents' heads. At Crazy Horse's memorial, for a couple of bucks you can take a bus ride down to the base of the colossal monument. That is when there's no scheduled blasting!
The first weekend of June there's a Spring Volksmarch, and in September there's an Autumn Volksmarch that goes up and out onto the extended arm. If you are in the area, then this is certainly worth looking into doing!
10. Completion of the Monuments
In the completion of Mount Rushmore, one of the things I was particularly amazed by was how much attention to detail was put forth into creating George Washington's face, which was the first to be worked on. The other three president's heads almost look like they were rushed. (Maybe this has something to do with where the name Mount Rushmore came from, but I doubt it.)
The Crazy Memorial has no scheduled completion date, and the finished product could be hundreds of years down the road. So the photographs in this article should be dated to the year 2014. Maybe way down the road, they can be referred back to for an idea of the monument's progress. All of these photos I personally took, and anybody has my full permission to use them however they may choose.